UPDATE: Totten has updated his story. This is the new stuff, and note that the museum may have to return the donor’s money (see statement at bottom that I’ve put in bold):
NHM director of communication Kristin Friedrich said many of the museum’s curatorial staff members shared similar concerns with management after the quote appeared in early December.
As I suspected!
Friedrich added that the museum has a statement posted on its website underscoring its support for the theory of evolutionary biology. The statement asserts “evolutionary biology is fundamental to understanding biological diversity and is critical for both scientific research and museums.”
However, former NHM Board Member Miriam Schulman says the incident points to a broader issue of the institution’s acceptance of large donations from people she characterized as having “anti-evolutionary beliefs.”
“It’s always dangerous when you accept money from people who have an agenda that runs counter to the mission of the museum,” Schulman said.
NHM’s Kristin Friedrich responded that she was unaware of Schulman’s concerns.
“I’ve worked here eight years, and it’s not an issue to me or something that’s been on the uptick,” she said.
The museum is in talks with the anonymous donor about the matter, and it is unclear whether it will have to return the money.
On the KPCC (Los Angeles public radio) website, science reporter Sanden Totten has a brief piece about the removal of the “creatures of God” sign from the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. We’ve covered most of it on this site, but we have this added information:
On Monday, the museum released a statement saying it removed the quote, with the following explanation:
“Upon further reflection and after discussion with our staff, and in conversation with the donor, the Museum has determined that acknowledging donors by including personal statements in such a manner has the potential to cause confusion.”
As of last week the NHM said it planned only to modify the way it displayed the quote to make it clear that the sentence was the view of a donor and not the museum itself.
So now we know that the donor has agreed to the removal. Thank you, donor! I’m very glad this worked out so the quote was removed but the donation remained.
I like the cryptic reference to “confusion,” which to me means the confusion of simultaneously presenting a scientific and a theistic point of view. “Discussions with the staff” undoubtedly means the Museum’s scientists and educators objecting to the sign.